Los Angeles is considered as the embodiment of everything new and modern in American Culture—a combination of super highways, affordable housing, and opportunity for everyone. It was (and is) a cosmopolitan place, because it was built by immigrant settlers like Spaniards, Mexicans, English, French, Basques, Chinese, and Germans during late 1800s and early 20th Century, and is a home for multitude of immigrants from various part of the world. Earlier the area of Los Angeles was inhabited by small bands of Garielino Indians. When Spanish occupations of California began, an exploratory expedition led by Gasper de Portola in 1769 camped by a river having all the requirements for the future large settlement. Friar Juan Crespi, in the group named the river El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reyna de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, which means “The River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula” (History of Los Angeles County).
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In 1771 Father Junipero Serra and a group of Spaniards founded the San Gabriel Mission as the centre of the first community in this area. On Sept 4, 1781 the Pobladores led by Capt. Rivera y Minced established a community in the area discovered by Portola, and named it El Pueblo de la Reyna de Los Angeles (The Pueblo of the Queen of the Angels) which became popular over time as “City of Angels” or “Los Angeles.” Though the area was under control of Spanish authorities until 1822, American vessels arrived in the early 1800s, and the first English-speaking inhabitants settled in Los Angeles in 1818. By 1840s, Los Angeles became the largest town in Southern California, as the waters off the cost of California got frequented by traders and whale hunters. The hostilities between Mexico and the U.S ended in 1848, following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and added Los Angeles and rest of California to American Territory.
It is believed that growth of Los Angeles is associated with California’s ‘Gold Rush’ that began in the hills southwest of the Antelope Valley in 1842, when Francisco Lopez accidentally found some gold flakes clinging on the roots of wild onions. Flocking of ‘Gold Hunters’ to Sutter’s Mill, Antelope Valley, Soledad Canyon, and the north of Los Angeles provided the town with a booming market, and many prospectors settled in the area. After the ending of Civil War (1860-1985), there was large immigration, and several large Mexican ranches were divided to create such places as Compton, Downey, Norwalk, San Fernando, Santa Monica, and Pasadena. On Feb. 18, 1850, the County of Los Angeles was established as one of the 27 original counties, and the new self-government was elected on April 1, 1850. Though one of the toughest towns in the West, Los Angeles was designated as the official seat of County government and was incorporated as a city. There was a varied stream of immigrants to Los Angeles, and with the Immigration Act of 1965, dramatic changes in the area begun with new immigrants. A survey conducted in 2000 by the Los Angeles Unified School district show that more than 130 different languages represented among school-age children, emphasizing that “Los Angeles had become the nation’s major immigrant port of entry, supplanting New York City” (History of Los Angeles County).
Growth of Los Angeles in to a popular port of immigration was also associated with the population boom to “Go West” in the late 1860s and completion of railroad route to Los Angeles in 1880. When Edward L. Dohney discovered oil at Glendale Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles in 1980s a “second black gold rush” had begun, and Los Angeles became a centre of oil production in the early 20th Century. By the turn of the century “nearly 1,500 oil wells operated throughout Los Angeles and between 1953 and 1988 about 1,000 wells pumped 375 million barrels of oil from these pumps.” (History of Los Angeles County).
The growth of Los Angeles also necessitated annexing large San Fernando Valley for agriculture. Water supply was another issue. To accommodate its growing population intermittent water of Los Angeles River was inadequate, and bringing more water to the city from Owens River was a difficult task. However, aided with special act of the Congress to acquire land outside the county boundaries and instituting a number of large engineering projects, including Hoover Dam, which channeled water from Colorado River, the Los Angeles County is providing better living condition to its residents. But, in the rush for exploiting natural resources and fast urbanization Santa Margarita River, formed by the confluence of Temecula and Murrieta creeks in southwestern Riverside County, remains one of the last free-flowing rivers in Southern California and its riparian vegetation is a singular natural resource. Its vegetative and aquatic habitat includes “500 plant species, 236 bird species, 52 mammal species, 43 reptile species, 26 fish species, and 24 aquatic invertebrate species” (Evans).
From a large agrarian community, Los Angeles developed step by step to a centre for meat trade, citrus and olive oil shipment, Gold Hunt, Oil Hunt, and into an industrial hub, centre for production of silent films and “talkies,” Television over the years. By providing niche for every changing medium Los Angeles has remained firmly in command of American Image-making.
Evans, Steve. Santa Margarita River: Refuge in an Urbanizing Land. Earth Times. 1994. 2008. Web.
History of Los Angeles County. L. A County Online. General Info. 2008. Web.
Los Angels: Overview. Lonely Planet. 2008. Web.